September 10, 2020

CDC Fact Sheets Focus on Heat Stress Prevention During COVID-19

New fact sheets published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information for employers and employees on heat stress prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC warns employers that implementing COVID-19 health and safety recommendations may alter employees’ working environment, which can put workers at additional risk for heat-related illness. For example, if a workplace closes temporarily or if employees have been away from work for more than a week, they may lose their acclimatization to hot environments. Implementing COVID-19 recommendations may also result in increased heat burden associated with personal protective equipment or cloth face coverings and increased physical activity if employees must perform additional tasks due to social distancing requirements. Workers’ risk for heat stress can also increase if they are assigned longer shifts to catch up on work due to pandemic-related setbacks.

CDC urges employers to modify their heat illness prevention programs to protect workers from both heat stress and exposure to COVID-19. The agency’s fact sheet for employers details recommendations related to pre-screening and reacclimatizing employees, cloth face coverings or masks and PPE, work/rest schedules, ventilation, cooling stations, and emergency first aid for heat-related illnesses. CDC’s recommendations for workers include taking time to reacclimatize to heat stress, taking longer and more frequent rest breaks, and wearing cloth face coverings that are lightweight and light in color.

For more information on heat stress, see topic pages from NIOSH and OSHA.